Um, Uh, Like Call in The Speech Coach Patricia Fripp

Patricia Fripp quoted in New York Times!

This article was written by Hillary Chura and first ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007 – Um, Uh, Like Call in the Speech Coach. Although Patricia Fripp was quoted, David Freeman, Michael Sipe, and Donna Gadient who were my clients gave great interviews and their comments were not attributed to my executive speech coaching and sales presentation skills training. However, how often do you get mentioned in the New York Times? In my Executive Speech Coach blog version I make it obvious they worked with me!

Um, Uh, Like Call in the Speech Coach

Whether to appear more confident, better organized or to stop the “ums,” entrepreneurs are realizing good voice and presentation skills can help them come into their own and even compete against larger competitors with big marketing budgets.

Michael Sipe, president of Private Equities, a small mergers and acquisition advisory firm in San Jose, Calif., worked with a presentation coach who helped him differentiate his business from competitors.
That is why he hired executive speech coach Patricia Fripp who is based in San Francisco and is also known as the Silicon Valley Speech Coach.

“If a customer can’t determine who is any better or different or worse, then they are left with a conversation about price. And as a business owner, if you’re only in a price conversation, that’s a losing conversation,” Mr. Sipe said. “It is really important to paint a picture of why someone should do business with them in a very compelling way. It’s easy for the customer to say ‘I’ll just go with the big guy.’ It’s the old adage — no one ever got fired for hiring I.B.M.”

Even though business owners may be experts in their fields, that does not automatically translate into being able to market themselves verbally. Many agree that speaking concisely — and in a compelling way — lends credibility. While poor communication skills are not necessarily deadly, they can make it more challenging to win over potential investors, prospective clients, employees and business partners.

Speech is the way a small business builds its brand, establishes expertise, gets free publicity and gets in front of its market.

R. W. Armstrong & Associates, a civil engineering project management company in Indianapolis, first hired a speaker trainer Patricia Fripp to help prepare it for a pitch worth millions of dollars. The company went in as the underdog but clinched the deal after working on timing, learning how to use descriptive words, introduce co-workers and present itself with poise and cohesion, said Donna Gadient, director for human resources. She said the company paid about $8,000 to $10,000 for a day of training for 25 people and that the guidance continues to help employees speak on their feet.

Coaches, who may charge $400 an hour for one-on-one guidance to more than $10,000 a day for groups, work with clients on content and delivery, tone, organization, diction, timing, how to enter a presentation confidently and refining a message around essential words. They draw attention to flaws like blitzing through presentations as well as rising inflections that make every statement sound like a question from, like, a Valley Girl. They encourage people to use short sentences, speak in sound bites and pause so listeners can digest what has been said.

A less expensive option is the public speaking organization Toastmasters International, where members critique one another’s presentations.

Being a good presenter is more of an acquired skill than a born-with-it gift, enthusiasts say. Techniques that work with a large audience are also effective one-on-one. Patricia Fripp, a sales presentation skills trainer based in San Francisco, says that connecting on an emotional level with the audience and telling people what they will gain, rather than what you will offer, is important.

David Freeman, director for client development at Ashfield & Company, a San Francisco asset manager, sought help to hone his firm’s message to pension funds, financial institutions and wealthy investors. The idea was to stop presenters from rambling and have them deliver only pertinent information.

“We may fly across the country to present for 45 minutes to a pension fund or consulting firm that can be worth $25 million, $50 million or $100 million in the amount of money we are being given to manage,” Mr. Freeman said. “You want to increase the probability that you are going to be remembered.”